By Carole Rummage
Published on November 13, 2012
Published by Cedar Fort
Summary from Goodreads:
Laney Lowell moved across the country to escape her past, not to fall in love. But when she becomes friends with Gabe, a handsome artist plagued by a mysterious disease, she'll have to decide between facing his dark truth or walking away from him forever. This thrilling romance is full of twists that will keep you guessing to the last page.
In introducing this book, and all you really need to know about it, allow me to adapt a quote from a great cultural philosopher from the year 2012:
Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but I'm in love with you and am already talking seriously about marriage after only a few weeks, so call me, maybe (PS we're still in high school and you have a secret life-changing disease).
Yup. Laney, new in town after a family tragedy, meets Gabe, a sensitive, mysterious artist, and instantly knows that she wants to be with him. Because he's handsome, and likes animals, and has his own tragic past, and is nice to her. They go from complete strangers to Made For Each Other in pretty much zero seconds flat. Fortunately, their romance is cute and flirty, with the two taking the time to actually get to know each other, past baggage included... except for Gabe's illness, which he refuses to tell Laney anything specific about.
Do you want to know how long it took the big reveal to happen? According to the progress bar on my Kindle, I was 88% finished before Laney finally figured out Gabe's big secret. 88%! That is way too long to keep someone hanging on your books only mystery, especially when it's revealed in a pretty un-dramatic (in my opinion) fashion. Laney's reaction to the reveal is also pretty unrealistic, albeit expected. It took significantly less time than that for me to figure it out. The foreshadowing in this book is off the charts with how heavy-handed it is. The plot and subplots are pretty predictable, and the main (external) source of conflict is super obvious from almost the instant he's on the page.
I don't want to make it sound like I hated this book, because I didn't. It's not terrible, it just doesn't have characters who are terribly complex. Maybe I'm just a little more discerning of a reader than perhaps the target audience is suspected to be. Not that I don't think teens aren't savvy readers. I think instead that people often underestimate teens and the complexity of plots that they can grasp. Refuge was a very quick read and while I wasn't super engaged, it was good enough for a couple of days of laying around in bed, wanting something to read that didn't take a whole lot of thinking on my part. There are a lot of really sweet moments in this book, particularly as Laney starts to open up to her aunt and uncle. The way that family relationship blossoms is very realistic and poignant, and a nice contrast to the dysfunctional family relationships often seen in YA books. The story is very clean, too, with no profanity and only a few kisses shared between Laney and Gabe.